DIRECT DOWNLOAD - MICROGORIA 40 - The Hamlyn Book of Horror
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"When the Longstone hears the clock strike twelve, it runs round the field," as almost every child in the place will tell you.
In Avening parish, about half a mile south of the Longstone, is "Tinglestone," a menhir crowning a long barrow; Mr. Frost of Avening tells me that it too* "runs round the field when it hears the clock strike twelve."Skipping a little further north, we have the famous monuments at Avebury, which comprise of three stone circles and an ancient henge. To the north of the village lies one of the larger megaliths in the complex, a diamond shaped sarsen known as the Swindon Stone. However despite weighing in at an impressive 65 tonnes, the Swindon Stone likes to get out and about too, with local legends asserting that it is apt to go for a wander, and crosses the nearby road at midnight.
Zebedee Fry were coming home late from the hay-making above Shipham. It were full moon, for they'd worked late to finish, and the crop was late being a hill field, so he had forgot what night 'twas. He thought he saw something big and dark moving in the field where the big stone stood, but he was too bone-weary to go chasing any stray bullock. Then something huge and dark in field came rustling all alongside lane hedge, and Zebedee he up and dive into the brimmles in the ditch till it passed right along, and then he ran all a-tiptoe to reach Shipham. When he come to the field gate he duck two-double and he rush past it. But, for all that, he see this gurt stone, twelve feet and more, a-dancing to itself in the moonlight over top end of field. And where it always stood the moon were shining on a heap of gold money. But Zebedee he didn't stop for all that, not until he were safe at the inn at Shipham. They called he all sorts of fool for not getting his hand to the treasure - but nobody seemed anxious to have a try - not after he'd told them how nimble it danced round field. And nobody knows if 'twill dance again in a hundred years. Not till there's a full moon on Midsummer Night.It is interesting to note that "wimble" is thought to be derived from an old word meaning 'lively' or 'giddy'. And indeed there are other tales of folks falling foul of the Wimblestone, with one story alleging it attacked a farmer who struck it with a stick, and chased him across the countryside until he took refuge in a nearby church!
The third is a stone which moves at night in Glenn Cindenn, and though it should be cast into the sea, or into a cataract, it would be found on the margin of the same valley.It is also worth noting that it is thought that Nennius didn't actually pen all (or according to some scholars, any) of Historia Brittonum, and that the text was assembled from even earlier anonymous sources. The mention of the stone returning to its site if ever moved is also a common feature in moving stone lore, alongside stories of the stones resisting and foiling any attempt to move them. For example, our bad boy rockstar, the Wimblestone is alleged to have rolled over and crushed a chap who tried to pull it up with oxen. So then, it would seem we can trace stories of strolling stones back at least to the 7th century. Little wonder then that the apparently more recent additions to folklore involving stones rotating took root so quickly. And as we shall we next week, ancient stones often did more incredible things than just taking an occasional hike...
This rocking stone, which, from its extraordinary position, evidently appears not only to have been the work of art, but to have been placed with great ingenuity; the two upper stones (a and b) have been shaped to fit exactly with the two upright stones (c and d) on which they rest; and so artfully contrived, that the lower stone (b) moves with the upper stone (a). It measures about 26 feet in circumference.
That this is a Druidical monument formed by art, cannot, I think, be denied; we are assured that the Druids were well skilled in the art of magic, by which the superstitious Britons were led implicitly to believe in the miracles performed by these rocking stones.
It stands on the edge of a hill on Ashover common; height nine feet. It was a very ancient practice among the Britons to make three turns round their sacred rocks and fires, according to the course of the sun. Martin, in his account of the Western isles, says, "that in the Isle of Barry there is one stone about seven feet high, and when the inhabitants come near it, they take a religious turn round according to the ancient Druid custom." Hence there is great reason to suppose, that the above-mentioned stone was a rock idol to whom the Druids offered up their devotional rites.
There is a large block of limestone called Colwall Stone, situated by a cottage (formerly named the "Old Game Cock"), on the road-side at Colwall Green. Some have supposed that it was placed there in ancient times as a memorial of some event, or as evidence of some custom; but, upon my visiting the spot in 1846, I learned from a person in the neighbourhood, that his late father, Francis Shuter, and others, about seventy years ago, got it out of the limestone quarry, in a copse at the foot of the Wytch, and, assisted by a strong team of oxen, dragged it to its present locality; but whether it was brought there in lieu of a more ancient memorial I could not learn. It is four feet long, three feet broad, and two feet six inches thick; and I was informed that the landlord receives one penny a year rent for it.
A gardener, a resident in Pyrford but not a native, said, "I expect it was put up in remembrance of someone being killed. There's a cross scratched on it, so I expect it's like kicking a cross. Don't you know that? I've been in many parishes, and they always kick a cross in the road where anyone's been murdered or killed in an accident." Here he made a cross in the dust with his foot. "If a man's been killed in an accident on the road, the policeman'll always kick a cross; and some people keep on kicking a cross in the same place year after year. There've been several people killed on Pyrford Rough, but no one seems to trouble to keep up the crosses."